It's rare these days that we cook for a guest with absolutely no dietary requirements. Carol is one of these people ...unless you count her intense hatred of sultanas. We ate semolina gnocchi in a capsicum-tomato sauce for dinner and followed it up with soy chai and this boozy chocolate pecan pie.
I found the recipe on Amateur Gourmet, and he found it in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Though I've loved many a caramelly pecan pie in my time, this one also boasts chocolate chunks and brandy. It was originally a bourbon chocolate pecan pie but it was brandy we had on the bench. It worked and I'm sure there are plenty of other liquors that would meld with chocolate and caramel just as nicely. (If you're not one for a hard drink, try going hard with the vanilla instead.)
I went with my habit while making the crust rather than the instructions written down, and this served me well. I only wish I trusted myself further and blind-baked this crust a little before pouring in the filling (I'll add that step below). The base held together but was definitely undercooked. I also noticed that the chocolate chunks had a firm and slightly incongruous texture once this cooled down. No-one else seemed to notice, what with all the cocoa, brandy caramel, pecans and cream going around.
Chocolate pecan pie
(recipe adapted slightly from one seen on Amateur Gourmet;
he credits it to Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)
1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
125g cold butter
3/8 cup cold water
2 cups pecans
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons castor sugar
4 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons brandy
170g dark chocolate
In a food processor, whizz together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter in cubes and pulse 'til the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Gradually add in the water as it blends, processing until it forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap, mold it into a ball, then wrap it up and refrigerate for an hour.
When the dough is ready, place it between two sheets of plastic wrap and roll the dough out to fit a pie dish. Remove the plastic and gently fit the pastry into the pie dish. Freeze the crust until firm, about an hour. Next time, instead of freezing the crust, I'll try pricking it with a fork, weighing it with beans and blind-baking in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Roughly chop the chocolate and spread it across the base of the pie.
Coarsely chop 3/4 cup of the pecans. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the corn syrup, sugars, melted butter, salt, vanilla, and brandy. Whisk again until well combined. Stir in the chopped pecans, then slowly pour the caramel over the chocolate.
Arrange the remaining 1 1/4 cups pecan halves on top of the filling.
Bake the pie until it is set in the centre, about an hour (test it with a knife). Allow the pie to cool, serving it warm or at room temperature.